What is “Media/Tie-In” Anyway? [My Book Launch Week!]

Gorramn Dictionary

All this week, I’m celebrating the release of Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse from Titan Books. Each day, I’m going to post about an aspect of working as a media/tie-in writer. I hope you enjoy this series of posts!

When you hear the words “media/tie-in”, what do you think of? This industry-facing term is a description of a product that is created for an existing property such as a game, movie, book, etc. There is some legal mumbo-jumbo behind that, too, like licensing terms and agreements. In many cases, a media/tie-in book/game/movie is published and distributed by a company that is not owned or operated by the license holder. Instead, Company B inks an agreement with Company A, to legally produce and sell anything from T-shirts to video games. Individual artists, editors, or writers like myself, are then hired to produce that new title.

On the surface this might sound simple, and I’ve heard the phrase “glorified fan fiction” bandied about to that effect, but there can be (and often are) many complexities and layers involved in this process depending upon the size and interest in the property. Those layers often help shape the story itself, which is partly why I feel “glorified fan fiction” is not an accurate representation of what media/tie-in writers do. Plus, I think this hurts fan fiction writers as well, because many fan fiction writers go on to work in publishing. Thus, they start out of the gate thinking all they need is the ability to tell a story. While storytelling is required for media/tie-in fiction, just as it is for original fiction, there are many other skills that we develop over time. These not only help us tell better stories, but also give us opportunities to build relationships and master the ability to work in tandem with other people on these projects as well.

Behind the Scenes

My role as a writer usually begins after an agreement has been signed and the publisher knows what they want to produce. From here, the project is managed in any number of ways, and it’s my responsibility to be flexible to the publisher’s needs. For example, some properties have what’s known as a “setting bible” and an “exclusions list” that details the key elements of a setting for their writers; others don’t. When a setting bible doesn’t exist, I wind up creating one for my project in order to provide proof of concept to save time. After all, the decisions I make when writing media/tie-in fiction, reference materials, or games are not entirely up to me. I am producing materials that often require a number of approvals, and this process can be very technical–especially if the publisher wants to feature a signature character, ship, setting, etc. For this reason, I feel it’s essential to keep a digital-or-paper trail or a record of the conversations I have between the publisher and myself. That allows me to research and confirm older decisions during the project, ones that naturally get missed given the amount of e-mails that occur throughout the development process. Often, this might include character sketches or proposed outlines as well.

This type of background work is important in my experiences, because any decision I make is subject to further scrutiny during any leg of the process for both business and quality assurance purposes. Unlike my own work, in which I’m “the boss” and can flesh out as many or as little details as I desire, media/tie-in properties are often produced within a fabric of other publications and may or may not be bound by a larger framework. For example, a movie novelization’s outline might be guided by a screenplay or the studio’s direction. Writing a new Star Trek novel on the other hand, which precedes a long and storied legacy of other books based on the TV show and movies, can have more levers and pulleys since there’s more material to draw from. Sometimes the smallest detail, such as the color of a uniform or a minor character’s name, might have to be confirmed and attributed to its original source in the outline, too.

Why I Enjoy Writing Media/Tie-In

To me, writing media/tie-in is a lot of fun, because I love writing that employs a level of complexity that channels my skills and forces me to grow creatively. Often, there are many aspects that feel like putting a puzzle together. The harder the challenge, the more I thrive on it–especially if I’m on deadline! But, media/tie-in has the added benefit to me as a writer, because most properties have an existing fan base.

This means that my work has the potential of reaching more readers than my original work at this stage of my career, simply because fans are hungry for more of their beloved characters and stories. Long-term, this is something I’ll continue to build upon, because many of my readers who check out my original work have done so because they saw and liked what I wrote elsewhere. Not to mention, I get the added bonus of channeling my own fandoms into my work–which is ridiculously awesome!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s look at media/tie-in. Tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating Firefly!

[New Games Release] Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell

Codex Infernus

I had the pleasure of helping develop the game world for Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell, which is a book about adventuring in a hell for the Savage Worlds system.

A holy warrior fighting back infernal beasts on the precipice of a fiery pit. Cloaked figures chanting an incantation to bring forth a nameless beast. A man standing at a crossroads bartering with a demonic temptress for fame and fortune; the price of which is his very soul.

Advisers to kings and queens, dictators and presidents, whispering lies at the behest of their demon lords with the fate of nations resting on whether or not the advice is heeded. A scientist examining a strange artifact found on a distant planet that, unbeknownst to him, opens a mysterious gate to a nightmarish dimension when a button is pushed.

These are just a sampling of the myriad images which come to mind when we think of Hell. Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell, brings those images to life and shows you how to plug them into your games, regardless of what genre you love to play!

Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell is now available for download on DriveThruRPG.com.

Signal Boosting: Rosarium Publishing on Indie GoGo!

Dancing Chick Avatar

Rosarium Publishing, which was established in 2013, is a small press publisher featuring comics and stories with a multiculturalism in mind. While the discussion and need for diversity in media continues to grow, there is a significant number of authors, like Nisi Shawl who will be part of our upcoming anthology Upside Down, who are and have been working in publishing to varying degrees. There are, however, minority-owned publishers as well, and Rosarium (owned by Bill Campbell) is one of those publishers.

This post is not to convince you that multiculturism is important, because you either believe that it is or you don’t. Regardless, this is a growing aspect of our media, and it is a path to the future as we become more connected. The challenge, unfortunately, for any small press publisher is to deal with the rising costs of doing business. From distribution and shipping to paying writers a fair wage, being a publisher is not a cheap proposition. This is why many publishers have begun leveraging crowdfunding efforts (Patreon/Kickstarter/IndieGoGo, etc.) to help raise the capital in order to grow or fund projects that are normally a cost sink.

As a writer, editor, and game designer myself, I feel that multiculturalism is crucial to engage and encourage new readers and players, as well as support existing professionals and nurture new and interested artists. We live in a world of media that reaches across borders to every corner of the world, and many fans of the properties I’ve worked on live overseas. And, as I’ve said many times before, multiculturism is also important to me personally as well, because I feel that reading widely is important to becoming a better writer.

It is for all these reasons and more, that I hope you’ll consider checking out the Indie GoGo for Rosarium Publishing and their stellar catalog of titles.

    Mood: I am all out of f-bombs to give today.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Working on my third cup o’ coffee.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Still coughing. Oy.
    In My Ears: Soma.FM’s Deep Space One station
    Game Last Played: Some puzzle game. Not sure what it’s called.
    Book Last Read: Raising Steam by Tanith Lee
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: The Two Towers.
    Latest Artistic Project: Um… Let me get right on that. Still, even.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Gods, Memes, and Monsters
    Latest Game Release: Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade and Ghosts in the Black for the Firefly RPG.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update.


Attending Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop

Galactic Starry Space

Space. The final frontier. Or, should I say…the exciting frontier? In the realm of science fiction, I feel a working knowledge of astronomy benefits both writer and reader in numerous ways. From providing a sense of wonder to ensuring a baseline of believability, I feel the Science in science fiction is very important.

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you that I’ll be attending the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop to study astronomy.

Launch Pad is a workshop for established writers held in beautiful high-altitude Laramie, Wyoming. Launch Pad aims to provide a “crash course” for the attendees in modern astronomy science through guest lectures, and observation through the University of Wyoming’s professional telescopes. SOURCE: www.launchpadworkshop.org

There’s a number of reasons why I’m grateful to be participating in Launch Pad, and I’m looking forward to incorporating astronomy into my work. I cannot wait to peer through the telescopes and see the beauty of our solar system.

GO SCIENCE!

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